With its trove of spectacular sites and preserved history, London has long enjoyed status as one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet. Nowadays more and more of its 30 million annual visitors are coming specifically to enjoy the food and drinks. If you haven’t already noticed, the UK capital has blossomed into a premiere food and beverage Mecca. And the summer is, of course, one of the best times to taste it all. Here’s a helpful rundown of what’s particularly notable at the moment. Get your bookmarks ready, and remember: you needn’t be an out-of-towner to enjoy these experiences.
Dinner And A Show
If you’re looking to get a little lively on a summer evening and make more than just a meal out of it, you have you come to the right city. Even more so if you’re a fan of Pulp Fiction—and who isn’t? Check out Tarantino Live at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith. It’s the latest electrifying installment from For The Record, a live entertainment troupe who turn the soundtrack of legendary films into immersive theatre. This time they’re taking a stab at the eponymous filmmaker’s celebrated canon, which will include scenes from Kill Bills 1 and 2, Reservoir Dogs, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and more. Arrive early to enjoy food inspired by the films, including a Big Kahuna Burger or a Royale With Cheese. And if you’re sitting in the Mr. Black section you can enjoy table service during the performance. Each of the seven cocktails on menu references a separate work from the Tarantino tome. The show runs through August 13th and tickets, which start at £30, can be purchased here.
For a more conventional sort of theatrical performance, it helps to have the West End at your disposal. Some of the best thespians on the planet are here, strutting their stuff nightly. It’s an embarrassment of riches, of course. So if you’re having a hard time making a decision, might we suggest Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical at the Lyric Theatre. The energetic musical is based on the life and music of Bob Marley. The performances are riveting, the story informative, and it culminates in a full audience sing-along during the encore.
In the posh neighborhood of Mayfair, you can be treated to plenty of live performances within a fancy restaurant. Amazonico in Berkeley Square is a prototypical example. The renowned rainforest-themed kitchen combines Latin American flavors with Japanese cuisine for something altogether unique. Arrive for weekend lunches and you’ll be treated to the soulful sounds of South American music as you dine. They start at 12:30pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Though you’ll want to stick around for the evening, in order to snag a seat at the property’s sleek basement speakeasy.
Nearby, the recently opened Mano Mayfair is taking a similar approach, but on a far more intimate scale. The cozy bar, restaurant and dance space claims to be London’s first Brazilian-Japanese fusion spot. Highlights include chorizo stuffed pao de queijo, an eponymous shrimp roll, and seared tuna with caponata and pine nuts. On the drinks side, a concise-yet-inventive list leans heavy on cachaca cocktails, but also promises highballs inspired with flavors from “Rio to Tokyo.” DJ sets on the weekends keep things lively late into the evening hours.
See Battersea Now
Seated along the south bank of the River Thames, Battersea Power Station is an iconic and imposing structure, which was decommissioned in 1983. Classic rock fans the world over will instantly recognize the historic building from the cover of Pink Floyd’s Animals. But few outside of London realize that this massive edifice—one of the largest brick structures on earth—is now enjoying a second life as a mixed-use development, housing a mall with high-end shopping and restaurants, 565,000 square feet of office space, and 254 apartments.
Now, with the opening of Lift 109, it is sure to secure its status as a primary tourist destination within the city. The attraction is a large glass elevator which ascends the former power station’s northwesterly smokestack, arriving some 357 feet above the city to afford unparalleled 360-degree views of the surrounding skyline. Tickets start at £15.90 for adults and include an interactive activation prior to the ride, fully explaining the history of the site.
And while you’re here, you’re going to want to enjoy some of the incredible food and drink on-offer throughout the complex. Have drinks at Control Room B, an all-day bar on the building’s third level. As advertised, this is actually the location of the original control room, and much of that bygone machinery is preserved on display alongside the central tipple factory. Those drinks, by the way, boast an engineering theme; a flow chart guides you throw the selections, broken down by classics and originals. Highlights from that latter list include The Battersea Nightcap—a boozy Manhattan riff with Fernet Branca and coffee/chocolate cookie syrup introducing a bittersweet blast to the finish—and the 66,000 Volts, a rum sour with Aperol and raspberry syrup mixed into the fray. Alcoholic offerings start at just under £10 a pop.
For food head directly outside the main building and into Wright Brothers, an elegant fish-focused affair set against the Thames. Oysters and martinis are a constant crowdpleaser here—especially if you’re arriving during the afternoon happy hour, when those beautiful bivalves are shucked at just £1 each. But regardless of what time you step in, you’re going to have a bevy of fresh fare from the sea to choose from. Think monkfish tail with red pepper and anchovy garlic sauce. Or if you want to keep it more traditional, go with the colossal fish and chips. This isn’t your typical chipper fodder. It’s a whale of a good time.
Take It Outside
With the summer sun shining bright, you’ll want to have some alfresco options on the back burner. Look no further than the Madison London, which recently launched its Summer Rooftop series. The outsized terrace, under the shadows of St. Paul’s Cathedral, offers a lengthy list of imaginative cocktails and canapés to pair with daily live music.
Back on the ground in the City of London, Eataly has its Aperol Sritzeria in full swing. Exclusive to its outdoor Terrazza space, the flavorful market is serving up spritzes, white Negronis, and Americanos on heavy rotation—and all at £10 a serve. The warm weather-friendly victuals pair perfectly with a manicured list of Italian specialities, including pizza on the paddle, burrata-topped antipasti to share, and delectable tagliatelle alla Bolognese.
Keep It Classic
Just because there’s an endless array of new openings across town doesn’t mean you should sleep on the old standbys. In Knightsbridge, one of the city’s most iconic red sauce eateries, Sale e Pepe, is hitting its full stride after 48 years in operation. The cozy Italian kitchen was just taken over by the Thesleff Group (the same folks behind Los Mochis and and Viajante87, two of Notting Hill’s hottest F+B outposts). They’ve kept many of the classics in tact, including the gargantuan Veal Milanese. But now you can also enjoy flexible two- and three-course lunch tastings, which showcase fresh ingredients and precise execution. The well-curated list of Italian wines is also worthy of extensive exploration.
Back in Mayfair, Hakkasan has been an institution since 2001. The Michelin-starred modern Chinese hotspot is still as boisterous and relevant as ever. Peking duck, lobster dumplings and salt and pepper squid fly out of the kitchen, arriving table side in the sleek, subterranean dining den alongside a massive assortment of inventive cocktails and high end Old World wines. Now they’ve come up with a way to make the experience even more sweet—and opulent. Earlier this spring, Hakkasan launched its Sweet Caviar Dessert Pairing. For around $688 you’ll enjoy two pours of Louis XIII cognac from its signature crystal drinking vessels, served with the restaurant’s signature sweet: passion fruit cake topped with coconut pearls fashioned to look like actual caviar.